On July 1, Matt LeBlanc will resume a role that he will forever be identified with: Matt LeBlanc. The Showtime meta comedy Episodes — in which the Friends actor stars as the Friends actor starring in Pucks!, a lousy adaptation of a high-brow British comedy — returns for a second season of Hollywood misadventures. (The season 1 DVD was released earlier this week.) LeBlanc, who won a Golden Globe for playing this more outrageous, less reputable version of himself, believes that this season “has a bigger, bolder feel to it. It’s more complex… It’s almost like everyone’s been let off the leash.”
Matt discusses this season’s dynamic between Matt and Pucks! husband-and-wife producers Sean (Stephen Mangan) and Beverly (Tamsin Greig), which was complicated by Sean finding out about Matt’s ill-fated one-night fling with Beverly.
“You would think that Matt and Beverly would have nothing to say to each other. But then they’re stuck there working [on Pucks!]…. We are both trying to get back in his good graces, so we’re allies in this weird battle of reconciliation.”
Matt on his character being challenged this season.
“There’s a fairly in-depth dismantling of ‘Matt LeBlanc.’ Last season, when they say I have an inability to appreciate the consequences of my actions, this season you see that [when] the ratings started to drop. In the network’s opinion, the show requires a restructuring, and in that restructuring, I’m left with light acting duty, and am not happy about it.”
On how his Bigfoot obsession made it into an upcoming episode.
Before shooting a scene with Mangan, “we started talking about how I kind of believe in Bigfoot. I don’t know that I actually believe in it. But I love the idea that it could be. So [Episodes executive producers] David [Crane] and Jeffrey [Klarik] are giddy at the table like, ‘Wait, wait, wait. What?’ And I’m like, ‘Oh, yeah.’ I start telling them about the show Finding Bigfoot, that I’m hooked on. The next day, I get an envelope, and the front part of that scene is completely rewritten, verbatim from Stephen and me. It starts: ‘You’re kidding.’ ‘Nope.’ ‘You can’t be serious.’ ‘Yep.’ ‘You believe in Bigfoot.’ ‘Yep. I’m telling you, there’s undisputed evidence. Experts examined the footage.’ ‘What about Yeti?’ ‘No, no! Yeti’s bulls—.’”
On why Joey didn’t work.
“I had a ton of faith in the writers and I still do. I think we just went in the wrong direction, and I was right there with them. [We] didn’t take advantage of Joey being in California and looked at stories that were more about ‘I miss things, I’m afraid of the new,’ instead of embracing the new.” LeBlanc doesn’t regret the experience, though: “I think it holds up fine… If that was a stand-alone show, we’d probably still be on the air. It didn’t matter who wrote that show or what we wrote about. It was doomed to fail because there were five people missing.”
On his unconventional hairstyle during his time off.
“I was cutting my own hair for a little while. I usually went with a mohawk. Because I figured if I cut my own hair and do a mohawk, I will definitely not go out of the house. It was like my own insurance policy to stay out of the public eye.”
On his Emmy and Golden Globe nominations for Episodes.
“My mom calls me and goes, ‘I just wanted to call you and say how proud I am of you.’ And I thought, ‘Very out of character for my mother.’ My mother’s a realist. And I was like, ‘Oh. What do you mean?’ She said, ‘Well, you took a long time off from work, and now you come back with this new show, and you get nominated for the Emney. And now a Global. I just think that’s great! I’m so proud of you.” And I was like, ‘You know what, Ma? You just made my day. Thank you so much.” Just puts it all in perspective. She mispronounced both of them. But it doesn’t matter what they are — she’s proud of me. Not that my feet were off the ground, but had they been, they would definitely be put back down.”
On the possibility of a guest spot by a Friends cast member.
“Merc (the network president played by John Pankow) asks me to get one of them for Sweeps… David and Jeffery found a very clever way to deal with that.”
On the perils of being pigeonholed as a Friend.
“My job is to embody a character and make you believe it’s the truth. So to get pigeonholed is ultimately a compliment. I don’t have a beef with any of it. The pigeonholing makes it hard to go play a doctor, sure, but if it ended tomorrow I could write a great book. It’s been a great ride.”
On a Friends reunion.
“That show was about a finite period of time, before you got married and went off to start your life with a family. It was that magical time that everyone can relate to. To see what we’re all doing now… It’s almost like the book is better than the movie. I don’t want to see old Joey. I don’t want to see Chandler and Monica with their kids that are [raising a hand a few feet off the ground] this big now. I’d rather imagine that. Everyone’s going to have different vision of what those characters are like, so to have that materialize is going to disappoint most people. A couple of people will go, ‘That’s what I thought!’ but for the most part it’s going to let people down. It’s better to let them just think.”